A note from project director Dana Caspersen
How do we broaden our sense of what matters in times of conflict?
I am a practitioner in the fields of both conflict engagement and choreography. Working at this intersection, I have come to see that any view of the world is a snapshot of attention: what is left aside, what is taken in.
In conflict, our attention is often primarily on the gestures of attack and defense. The full range of gesture through which we are constantly receiving and transmitting our experience of the human condition often goes unattended. The Dis/Agreement Project invites attention to this broader spectrum of human gesture, to expand our sense of what matters, beyond attack and defense, in times and places of conflict.
I started this project after noticing my own tendency to dehumanize people who hold political views that are in opposition to mine. I wondered: what would it be like to build, instead, a practice of remaining curious about these people with whom I disagree?
Nine artists from around the world joined me on the project. Each of us chose a topic important to us, found people that we agreed and disagreed with on that topic, and exchanged with them. First, through spoken conversations exploring why people believe what they do and then through physical conversations, responding with simple physical gestures to questions about how life feels. The gestures of the artists and their conversation partners– 47 people from 11 countries– were then transcribed into written and spoken language, creating choreographic distillations of experience to be again fleshed out into action by the minds of listeners and viewers.
What we pay attention to determines not only what we see, but what we are able to imagine is possible. When we enter a practice of humanization, we have a chance to illuminate the complexity of what matters in times of conflict and consider its possibilities as we collectively shape our world.
Thank you for joining us.
The Dis/Agreement Project is adaptable in form to meet the differing interests and resources of groups and communities. It can appear as a film and / or audio installation, as printed visuals, as a training, an interactive dialogue, or as online acoustic experience available through a QR code. If you are interested in bringing The Dis/Agreement Project to your space or community, please be in touch.
With gratitude to my partners on the Dis/Agreement Project:
Mengfan Wang (China / Japan), Jakevis Thomason (South Carolina, United States), Valerie Oliveiro (Mni Sota Makoce United States, Singapore), Jacquey Nyaminde (Nairobi, Kenya), Ani Javian (New Jersey, United States), Mayra Hernandez (Boston, United States), Isaac Blake (UK Romani Gypsy), Nour Barakeh (Syria/ Austria), and Jumana Al Refai (Kuwait).
And to our conversation partners, who made this project possible:
Zhiguang, Beijing, China
Xiaxin, Jinshandian, China
William, Boston, U.S.
Thomas, Brooklyn, New York
Teresa, Rhode Island, U.S.
Takesha, South Carolina, U.S.
Samantha John, Nairobi, Kenya
Sally, UK Romani Gypsy
Ryan, South Carolina, U.S.
Rizwan, New Jersey, U.S.
Raja, Brooklyn, New York
Qing, Qingdao, China
Qamar, Mni Sóta Makoce
Oneshia, South Carolina
Oliver, Boston, U.S.
Michelle, New Jersey, U.S.
Melvin, Nairobi, Kenya
Marcela, Mni Sóta Makoce (Minneapolis), U.S.
Magnus, Rhode Island, U.S.
Lacey, South Carolina, U.S.
Iddi, Nairobi, Kenya
Èstêbán Môrdècái, Welsh Kali
Anthony, Nairobi, Kenya
Allison, Welsh Romani
Adriane, Boston, U.S.
THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT is supported by the Goethe Institutes of Boston & Chicago, the Dance Department of Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, the State University of N.J., USA, the National Performance Netz-Stepping Out, and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media in the program NEUSTART KULTUR, [aid program DIS-TANZEN/ tanz:digital/ DIS-TANZ-START] of the Dachverband Tanz, Germany.